So, it's been a very hectic first couple of months for me as the communications manager for ARCA. I jumped in at the leading edge of an eleven races in eleven weeks stretch, and even though I missed the first two of those races, diving into the deep end of the pool when you haven't swam in a while can be very daunting to say the least.
When this position opened up, I immediately made the call to express my interest. When I went to college to get my degree in public relations, working for ARCA was one of those "dream jobs" hoped would come my way. I graduated from the University of Toledo in June, 1997, so only 21 years later my dream came true!
It's not like I sat around just waiting. I've been around racing my entire life. In fact, I've been around ARCA my entire life. My grandparents, Fran and Dick Duff, were the scorers for John and Mildred Marcum back in the 1960s and 1970s. They were inducted into the Michigan Motorsports Hall of Fame back in 2015, and the plaque they received proudly hung in the ARCA office prior to last year's fire.
As a kid, I tagged along with them to races at Flat Rock Speedway, ARCA's home track, on Saturday nights. Sundays were reserved for Toledo Speedway, which wasn't under ARCA sanction at the time, but a lot of the same faces were in the pits at both tracks. Every now and then we'd take a road trip to another nearby short track, and sometimes those would be ARCA "New Car" races.
It was a trip to Muskingum County Speedway in 1982 when, as a ten year old kid, I had my first ever paying job. I sold ARCA yearbooks for ARCA's PR guy, a tall guy with dark hair, bushy mustache, and a deep voice. I walked through the grandstands selling those yearbooks throughout the early part of the day, and for my efforts got half of a $5 bill. I don't mean $2.50. I mean half of a $5 bill. Just like his grandfather John Marcum used to do, Ron Drager tore a crisp $5 in half and gave one half to me and the other half to Mitch Lake, the late Terry Lake's son, who was my co-worker for the day. Thankfully someone in the scoring tower had some tape and could make change!
My first "real" job in racing was track PA at Toledo Speedway in 1998. I also wrote all of the track's press releases and sent them to the trade papers every Monday morning. In 1999, I got an opportunity to work for ThorSport Racing (it was known as SealMaster Racing back then), and spent much of the next 10 years working in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. And I did it with a lot more hair.
In 2008, my daughter Samantha's life changed for the better (she may argue with this from time to time) when we had twin sons, Alex and Chase. I decided it was best to take some time off from traveling the Truck circuit to help raise the three kids, and it was a decision I never regretted. I was still in the racing world, broadcasting several ARCA races each season over the air on the BAS Broadcasting Network in northwest Ohio, and eventually had the opportunity to transition to doing lap-by-lap for ARCARacing.com's live coverage of the non-televised ARCA Racing Series events.
Now that the kids are older and more self sufficient, I've been looking for the right opportunity to get back into racing on a full-time basis. I love the sport, its fans, and its participants. I wanted to find a place where I could share my enthusiasm for the sport and feel like I am making a contribution. I think I have found that place with ARCA, and I am thankful to be along for the ride.
The great thing is the kids are huge racing fans, and I get to do with them what my grandparents did with me. They get to see the sport from the same perspective I did. It's a lot of fun to take them on road trips to the races and introduce them to all of the people in the sport who give me such joy on a daily basis. And better yet, I can introduce all of them to those three kids, who are pretty cool in their own right.
There are a lot of unanswered questions looking ahead, on the track and off. I hope you have as much fun finding out the answers to those questions over the next 18 months as I will. I think we're going to see some great races, see some great drivers, and maybe be surprised by a thing or two as we make our way down the road.
I hope you all can tell how much fun I have bringing you the stories of the races, the drivers, and the personalities we see each and every week. I hope to see you at the races,